Cottage Farm is an organic, sustainable, carbon neutral farm in Jacobstow, North Cornwall. It is powered by renewable energy with near zero use of fossil fuels, one of the first in the country.
Cottage Farm rear native breeds almost exclusively on grass with minimal use of supplementary fodder. They sell and deliver fresh organic meat boxes by carbon neutral means of transport, in reusable boxes.
Owner Paul Sousek says “Having bought Cottage Farm back in 2005, without any prior farming experience at all, soon after I learned about Peak Oil, our aim was to establish an organic food producing business with a zero carbon footprint, serving our local community and other customers at affordable prices.”
Our aim is to demonstrate that it is possible to farm sustainably and in a resilient manner; that is without using fossil fuels, but still utilising machinery and energy. We believe that the whole agricultural sector could be converted in this manner to be sustainable and resilient in food production.
Every single aspect of the farm, house, lifestyle, travel and involvement in the community is driven by the need for sustainability and resilience.
The farm was converted to organic status and established a herd of local Red Ruby cattle and a flock of native Wiltshire Horn sheep. Cottage Farm now supply their neighbours and others with fresh organic beef and lamb boxes at below the price of conventional meat, due to cutting out fertiliser, feed and energy costs and through removing all intermediaries, selling directly to customers.
Traditional Cornish cob farm house originally built some 350 years ago (and still standing!) with a 30-year old extension. The cob walls are about a metre wide and much better thermally insulating then the insulated cavity wall of the extension.
A new unit was launched a few months ago called immerSUN. I bought one for about £400 and now we are using about TWICE as much of our own renewable energy as before, reducing our electricity bill even further.
The unit monitors the total renewable energy produced v. total energy used. Whenever you produce even slightly more than you use, it diverts every last Watt to a) an immersion heater and when the water is as hot as the thermostat allows also to b) night storage heater or indeed any other electrical device of up to 3kW capacity.
You can also link several of these units together to allow you the use of 4 or more night storage heaters or similar devices.
Here are some more details: http://www.transitionnc.org/node/48/2843#comment-2843 or email Fieldpower@tiscali.co.uk
I was so impressed with the device that we have decided to become distributors, so I can get it for you for just £370, plus 5% VAT. Installation is easy by your own electrician.
I know we have an interest in it, but it is truly magnificent device!
The house was subject to an ‘eco-conversion’, reducing their carbon footprint from 7 tonnes CO2/year to – 1.3 tonnes CO2/year, a decrease of 119%!
As a result they are the first house in Cornwall to have been accepted into the SuperHomes Network (www.Superhomes.org.uk), a charity building up a national network of exemplar energy efficient, older retrofitted homes.
They achieved this SuperHome status by firstly reducing energy consumption with loft and wall insulation, draft proofing, low energy and LED light bulbs, ‘A’ rated appliances, solar security lights and many other measures.
They then switched their space heating to a wood burner and wood fuelled Rayburn for cooking and heating. They also installed a Heat Store, which is powered by solar thermal tubes, the wood burner and an immersion heater, to provide hot water and to help heat the house through a connection to the existing central heating circuit. Solar thermal and a wood burner is an excellent combination providing plenty of hot water and space heating 365 days a year.
Electricity is provided by a combination of a wind turbine and solar PV panels, both with on-grid inverters. The combination produces power almost every day of the year.
Water comes from a borehole, pumped using the home grown electricity.
They also make their own 100% bio-diesel from waste vegetable oil. This powers a car, Landrover and the tractor, and is used to deliver the meat boxes. That means that all the work done on the farm, all deliveries and general driving is almost completely CO2 free.
As members of the SuperHomes Network, they hold regular ‘Open Days’ for the public to learn about, see and touch the various energy saving measures and renewable energy devices, as well as enjoying the land and animals on an organic farm walk.
The aim is to inspire others to follow suit, saving themselves money on energy and improving the prospects of our society surviving the current and future world energy crisis.
I have given presentations about our efforts at The Royal Agriculture College, The Transition Network conference, the Eco-Innovations conference held at Westminster Hall, Renewable Energy conference and various other conferences and meetings, including speaking in Parliament to MPs from an All Party Parliamentary Group and numerous local and Transition groups. More on that at www.TransitionNC.org (click on Local Food Producers Directory and Cottage Farm).
We are active members of the Tamar Valley Organic Group, a research group of practicing organic farmers working with the Duchy College and Clear About Carbon. This year we have over-sown our permanent pastures with an innovative mix of several old varieties of grass, legumes and other fodder plants, such as chicory, lucerne, and yarrow. All these varieties are perennials with extensive root systems and high feed value. The aim is to ensure 100% grass feeding by extending the season in both directions, by achieving high drought resistance and by saturating the soil with root systems to eventually allow overwintering in the fields.
Our sustainability ethos also extends to the type of machinery used. Almost all our machinery was bought second hand, all mechanical with no electronic components and thus maintainable and repairable by local mechanics, helping to maintain local skill base and keep value circulating in the local community.
Another aspect of our methodology is to sell our produce only directly to end customers, cutting out all the intermediaries that would otherwise absorb the majority of the profit, leaving the farmer with a minimal return. We deliver directly to our customers, but limit deliveries to only a few specific days in order to minimize food miles. We also started a local Food Market with local food producers, community and proxy stalls. Our customers receive regular newsletters updating them on developments and explaining the various innovations, our methods and motivations.
To help spread the message, I am a founding member of Transition Cornwall Network and Transition North Cornwall, for which I administer the website: www.TransitionNC.org, which is packed with over two and a half thousand items helpful in converting to a sustainable lifestyle and to maximizing resilience. Notable sections include News, Events, Local Food Directory, Local Renewable Energy Suppliers Directory, Local Services Directory, and Learning Section, each with unlimited free space made available to each supplier or source. TransitionNC now has over 1500 members.
Fieldpower Organics: delivering organic produce in London without costing the Earth: our new recently established service, which delivers organic produce from Cottage Farm and later from other local organic farms to London addresses once a month by our carbon neutral transport – the first such service anywhere in the country. See Fieldpower on www.bigbarn.co.uk
In summary, we believe that Cottage Farm is one of the most advanced exemplar organic farms of the future anywhere in the country. We produce food in a sustainable, carbon-sink and resilient manner and are finding that we can do so at a lower price than conventionally produced food. As energy and fertiliser prices soar in the years ahead, this model of farming and living will likely take over from the conventional method. The model is entirely reproducible and expandable to any larger size. Feel free to contact us.
2011/12 finalist BBC Food and Farming Awards in the category of sustainable Farmer of the Year
2010 and 2011 Highly Commended, Cornwall Sustainability Awards
Contact: Paul & Celia Sousek
01840 230 548
13 May 2013: Foundations of our new 50kW wind turbine are in. The turbine itself will be delivered and commissioned in June. This unit will supply clean electricity equivalent to 16 homes.
11 May 2013: today we had two sessions with Cornwall WI, with 16 and 12 participants respectively, just about our maximum. Each sessions lasts 3-4 hours and includes coffee & cake, presentation on what we do, why and how, indoor tour, outdoor tour, organic farm walk. Nobody fell asleep and loads of questions asked! Even had a bit of an argument over the pros and cons of wind turbines with one of the visiting ladies. Excellent feedback, so more sessions may well materialise.
27 April 2013: a coachload of German tourists arrive today with over 20 people participating in a shortened SuperHome session, mostly retired farmers.
10 March 2013: Another highly successful Open Day, part of Climate Week and SuperHomes Week: coffee & cake, presentation on what we do, why and how, indoor tour, outdoor tour, animals incl new calves and lambs and an organic farm walk.
Nov 2012: Fitted immerSUN unit, which monitors our renewable energy production and sends all excess to the immersion heater and/or night storage heater. That about doubles the amount of renewable energy we are able to use directly on site, rather than exporting it to the grid only to be imported back later at much higher cost.
Dec 2012: Won Best Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme Award.
Nov 2011: Sustainable Farmer of the Year finalist, BBC/Radio4 Food and Farming Awards.
Oct 2011: Highly Commended at Cornwall Sustainability Awards.
Updated on 13/05/2013
Cottage Farm Organics
SuperHomer Paul Sousek manages Cottage Farm Organics, organic farm powered by renewables, delivering fresh organic beef & lamb boxes to your door “without costing the Earth”.
Founder member Transition Cornwall and Transition North Cornwall (www.TransitionNC.org) and Powerswitch.org (www.Powerswitch.org)
Speaker at national conferences, House of Commons and local groups on the future of energy, food and farming.
Paul also hosts resilience workshops.
Cottage Farm is powered by renewable energy with near zero use of fossil fuels. Renewable energy is used to supply bore hole water, space heating, water heating, electricity and transport fuel. Its grass-fed native Red Ruby cattle and Wiltshire Horn sheep produce beautifully marbled, tender meat which is sold at below shop prices.
For more, visit www.cottagefarmorganics.co.uk